(Adds details, background) Oct 22 (Reuters) - Europe's biggest hotel group Accor reported a slump in third-quarter revenue on Thursday, saying the downturn in leisure customers and the introduction of new COVID-19 restrictions slowed its recovery toward the end of the period. Accor, which runs high-end chains such as Raffles and Sofitel as well as budget brands such as Ibis, reported revenue of 329 million euros ($388.91 million) in the July to September period, down 63.7% compared to a year earlier on a like-for-like basis. Accor said it saw activity improve during the summer holiday season, especially in Europe, though new curbs pushed the recovery back down in September and the group expects only China to swiftly recover to pre-crisis levels. The French group, which operates more than 5,000 hotels in 111 countries, said 90% of its hotels were now open, compared with 81% in August. "The worst of the crisis is now behind us, but our main markets are still substantially affected by the measures rolled out to combat the health crisis," Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin said in a statement. A global surge in new COVID-19 infections has forced countries to introduce new travel curbs, another hit for hotels that have been running at a reduced capacity since lockdowns were introduced in Europe in March. French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday the government would extend a curfew already imposed in Paris and eight other big cities to 38 more departments, starting from Friday at midnight. (Reporting by Milla Nissi and Charles Regnier in Gdansk Editing by Susan Fenton)
Former LifeLock spokesperson Rudy Giuliani is defending his unwitting cameo in the Borat sequel as a “hit job” in retaliation for his recent smears on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
In the controversial appearance, the man once called “America’s Mayor” appears to be touching himself under his pants while on a hotel bed beside an actress posing as a young journalist.
After news of the scene first broke on Wednesday, the former New York mayor called in to radio station WABC to explain that he had merely been tucking in his shirt. Giuliani suggested that the scene might have been “added, doctored, [or] manipulated” — allegations which he denies about his own dubious accusations against Biden.
“I had to take off the electronic equipment,” the former assistant U.S. attorney claimed. “And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back. And my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in. And at that point — at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored. But, in any event, I’m tucking my shirt in. I assure you that’s all I was doing.”
In the sequel to the hit mockumentary, 24-year-old actress Maria Balakova, who poses as Borat’s teenage daughter, Tutar, scores a one-on-one sit-down with Giuliani in a Manhattan hotel suite. According to Giuliani — whose work representing President Donald Trump’s personal interests in Ukraine led directly to his own client’s impeachment — he entered into what “seemed like a legitimate interview” with a “young woman.”
“At one point, she explained to me some problems she had. I actually prayed with her,” he said. “And then, I had to leave. I had my jacket on. I was fully clothed at all times.”
However, that description omitted some relevant details.
Throughout the scene, “Tutar” flirts heavily with Giuliani, and she reaches out to touch his knee several times. At one point, after Giuliani blames China for the coronavirus pandemic, he agrees to eat a bat with her.
After Sacha Baron Cohen, in the role of Borat, interrupts the interview costumed as an audio tech to “save” his daughter, the scene cuts to Tutar inviting Giuliani to “have a drink in the bedroom.” Giuliani, whom U.S. officials reportedly warned the White House had been a target of Russian intelligence, follows her out.
The next scene appears to be captured on hidden cameras. Giuliani, the president’s former informal cybersecurity adviser, removes Tutar’s microphone, sits on the bed and asks for her address and phone number. She removes his microphone, touching his pants, and he pats her backside. Giuliani then lies back on the bed and puts his hands down his pants for longer than he suggested in his later radio interview.
At that point, Borat, dressed in pink neglige which Giuliani later described as a “pink transgender outfit,” bursts into the room. Borat screams, “Put down your chram!” — his word for penis. “She’s
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and campaign fixer, Rudy Giuliani, is now claiming that the eyebrow-raising scene from the new Borat movie where he gets very comfortable with a young actress in a hotel suite is retaliation for his role in leaking alleged emails of Hunter Biden.
The scene in the movie was filmed back in July, months before Giuliani leaked the contents of Biden’s purported laptop to New York Post last week.
According to The Daily Beast, Giuliani calls the Borat controversy a “hit job” and implied it was part of a damage control conspiracy between the Bidens and Hollywood — and not an effort to drum up publicity for a movie that is, in fact, due to be released in two days.
“Now let me tell you why I know this is a hit job that happens because, it’s not an accident that it happens that I turn in all this evidence on their prince and darling Joe Biden ,” Giuliani said to The Daily Beast. “I have the courage to say that I’m the target.”
Giuliani also addressed the fact that, in the scene in question, he is filmed putting his hand down his pants after the actress removes his microphone pack and he asks for her phone number and pats her lower back/buttocks. The movie’s eponymous lead character, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, bursts into the room moments later.
“The Borat video is a complete fabrication,” he said in a post on Twitter. “I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the record equipment.”
(1) The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment.
At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) October 21, 2020
Giuliani noted in a subsequent tweet that he reported the incident to the police right after it occurred.
“I only later realized it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen,” Giuliani said at the time of the prank, which was more than three months before he leaked purported emails from Biden. “I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me.”
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“Wealth is the vector.” That’s what sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom tweeted last week, in reference to the spread of COVID-19 across both the globe and the United States. Wealth is not the cause of every concentrated outbreak dotting the United States. But it’s the common denominator of so much of its spread outside of major urban areas. It’s the reason why so many of the coronavirus hot spots in the Mountain West — Sun Valley, Idaho; Gunnison County, Colorado; Summit County, Utah; Gallatin County, Montana — overlap with winter playgrounds for the wealthy. The virus travels via people, and the people who travel the most, both domestically and internationally, are rich people.
A party in the tony bedroom community of Westport, Connecticut, all the way back on March 5, became what one epidemiologist referred to as a “super-spreading event,” with infected attendees dispersing throughout Connecticut and New England, and one party-goer falling ill on a plane ride back to South Africa. In Idaho’s Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, more than half of the residential properties are second homes or rental properties, and more than 30,000 people fly into the regional airport during ski season alone. As of March 31, 187 people in the county of 22,000 have tested positive, including local emergency room physician Brent Russell. Two people have died. The town’s small hospital has two ICU beds and a single ventilator.
“People come here from all over the world,” Russell told the Idaho Statesman. “Especially this time of year. When I’m in the ER, I get people from New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle. Every week there’s people from those places. Most likely someone from an urban area or multiple people from urban areas came here and they just set it off.”
All over the United States, people are fleeing urban areas with high infection rates for the perceived safety and natural beauty of rural areas. Some of them own second homes in those areas; others are paying upwards of $10,000 a month, depending on the area, for temporary housing. The common denominator among those populations is, again, wealth — either their own or their families’. They can flee the city because their jobs can be done remotely, or they don’t work at all. They either had a vacation house already, or they can afford to fork over what amounts to a second rent, or second mortgage.
Not everyone leaving a big city because of the pandemic is heading for a vacation home; many people with mobile jobs are relocating to stay with family in suburban and rural hometowns. And many of the rural places that will eventually be hardest hit by the coronavirus are not upscale ski and beach towns, but small and